The Circus Gardener's Kitchen

seasonal vegetarian recipes with a side helping of food politics

cauliflower tempura with pickled ginger and coconut curry sauce

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This recipe for cauliflower tempura with pickled ginger and coconut curry sauce signals the resumption of my association with Suma Wholefoods after an enforced hiatus due to the impact of the coronavirus pandemic. Suma, a wholefood cooperative, and one of the largest of its kind in Europe, has performed wonders to keep its key supply chains open over the past few months.

At the heart of each of these monthly recipes that I create for Suma Wholefoods are products from Suma’s extensive range of organic and ethically sourced products.

Each of the recipes will appear both here on my blog and on the Suma website.

This Japanese influenced dish is much easier to make than it might at first appear. The various elements can be made separately and brought together at the end.

The ginger pickle does need to be made in advance of everything else, preferably at least two hours beforehand, to enable the natural flavours and colouring to infuse. It can be kept refrigerated in a sterilised jar for several weeks.

cauliflower tempura with pickled ginger and coconut curry sauce


for the tempura
1 medium head cauliflower, cut into 2-3cm florets
1 tbsp ground cumin
80 g cornflour
120 g rice flour
pinch baking powder
pinch sea salt
250 ml sparkling water or lager

for the pickled ginger
150 g ginger, peeled and cut into thin julienne strips
100 ml red fruit vinegar (I used damson vinegar)

for the coconut curry sauce
1 onion, finely chopped
2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
2 cm piece fresh ginger, finely chopped
1 tbsp curry powder
½ tsp turmeric
20 g cornflour
400 ml can organic coconut milk
2 tbsp soy sauce
1 tbsp maple syrup
½ tsp sea salt
1 tsp rice vinegar
1 tbsp garam masala
2 tbsp sunflower oil, plus extra for deep frying

to serve
250 g jasmine rice


1. First, make the pickled ginger. Bring a pan of water to the boil. Once the water is bubbling ling, add the julienned ginger and cook for 10 seconds. Remove with a slotted spoon and drain on kitchen paper. Place the ginger in a small bowl and pour over the vinegar, ensuring it is all covered. Set to side for at least two hours.

2. For the coconut curry sauce, pour two tablespoons of sunflower oil into a large pan and place over a medium heat. Once the oil is hot, add the onion. Cook, stirring, until the onion is soft and translucent then add the ginger and garlic. Cook for a further two minutes then stir in the curry powder and turmeric. Add the cornflour and mix thoroughly. Cook for a further two minutes, stirring frequently, then add the coconut milk and stir to combine. Stir in the soy sauce, salt, maple syrup and rice vinegar. Bring the sauce to a simmer, reduce the heat and cook for a further ten minutes, stirring frequently, by which time the sauce should have thickened. Remove the pan from the heat, stir in the garam masala and set to one side. Once the sauce has cooled, blend it until smooth.

3. Place the rice in a saucepan with 500 ml of fresh water. Bring to the boil then reduce the heat to a gentle simmer. Cover the pan with a lid and continue to cook, undisturbed, for twenty minutes. Remove the pan from the heat and set to one side, leaving the lid on.

4. For the tempura, whisk together the cornflour, rice flour, ground cumin, baking powder, salt and sparkling water or lager until you have a thin batter.

5. Gently re-heat the coconut curry sauce. Pour sunflower oil into a wok or deep-sided pan to a depth of 5 cm. Place over a high heat. Dip the cauliflower florets into the tempura batter, ensuring they are completely coated. As soon as the oil is hot, carefully drop the battered florets into the oil and cook for three to four minutes, turning to cook on all sides, until the batter is a light golden colour and crisp. You will need to do this in batches to avoid crowding the pan. Remove the cooked tempura from the oil with a slotted spoon and drain briefly on kitchen paper.

6. Serve the tempura hot, accompanied by some of the rice, a pool of coconut curry sauce and a spoonful of pickled ginger.

Categories: gluten free, vegan, vegetarian


12 replies

  1. Living Down Under, and basically cooking so-called Australasian, delightfully acceptable fusion, it gives me a huge thrill when someone from way up north translates ‘our’ flavours as well as you do, Steve ! It is cauliflower season here and I cannot wait to try the dish you have put together nor ask friends here and across the various ponds for their opinion !!

  2. It has been a revelation to me over the past few years, since changing to a plant based diet, that cauliflower can be used for more than cauliflower cheese! I now love roasting it with oil and spices 😊 I’m looking forward to trying this recipe and also to get my next order in at Suma – a wonderful co-operative not far from me in West Yorkshire.

    Just to add that my dad was a greengrocer and we used to buy cauliflowers from a local farmer (the good old days!); my dad used to marvel at their beauty! I often feel the same – a very underrated vegetable!

    • Hi Anne. Thank you for your lovely comments. Cauliflower is indeed a wonderfully versatile vegetable, possibly surpassing another favourite of mine, the aubergine, in this regard. It is also, as you say, a beautiful vegetable. I am currently waiting to harvest my romanesco cauliflowers, which take that concept of natural beauty to another level. Steve

  3. Thank goodness, I just bought a cauliflower. Now to put it to use.

  4. Another wonderful vegetable recipe. Thank you for sharing. I love cauliflower and have had it many ways but I have not yet tried tempura-style, so this is definitely going on my to-be-tried list.

  5. Lovely presentation as always. Long time no see. 🌺❤️

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